Friday, September 30, 2016

Roy Moore Suspended

Today might not be the "black moon apocalypse," but it does sound like it might just be the end of Roy Moore's career as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore has been mentioned a couple of times here on Augoeides, and is most famous for opposing the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama state courthouse.

That was the first time Moore was forced out as Chief Justice, for disobeying a federal court order demanding the monument's removal. So I suppose it should come as no surprise that history appears to be repeating itself. This time, he was suspended for interfering with a federal order to allow same-sex marriages in the state.

Moore’s misconduct regarding same-sex marriage litigation was sweeping and extensive. In January of 2015, a federal judge invalidated the state’s same-sex marriage ban. Moore promptly wrote letters to probate judges insisting that they remained legally prohibited from marrying gay people—in effect, demanding that they violate a federal court order. In May of that year, the judge explicitly held that probate judges must issue marriage licenses to all couples, same-sex or opposite-sex. The next month, the Supreme Court held that same-sex marriage bans violate the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Yet in January of 2016, Moore issued yet another letter ordering probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Then, in March, Moore penned a bizarre opinion calling the Supreme Court’s decision “immoral,” “tyrannical,” and “unconstitutional.” He declared that he would refuse to follow it and urged all other state judges to follow suit. In response to Moore’s repeated defiance of federal court orders, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a judicial ethics complaint against him. Moore secured Mat Staver, Kim Davis’ attorney, to defend him.

Alabama’s judicial ethics committee is not a beacon of progressivism. Its judgment in the Moore case begins with a declaration that many members of the committee do not “personally agree” with the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling or think it was “well reasoned.” But the committee unanimously concluded that Moore had abused his position, violated the integrity of the judiciary, failed to comply with the law and perform his duties impartially, and brought “the judicial office into disrepute.” In addition to suspending Moore, the committee ordered him to pay “the costs of this proceeding.”

If anybody still believes that the Poor Oppressed Christians are harmless and just want to be left alone, they should study Moore's career closely. I don't make fun of their hypocritical beliefs to be mean, but rather because they are not content simply practicing their faith. Until they can force everyone else to conform to their particular interpretation of Christianity, they will never be satisfied.

The United States is not a theocracy, Christian or otherwise, and it never will be as long as I have anything to say about it. How can religious beliefs of any sort be meaningful if people are not allowed to freely choose? Even if you accept the tenets of Christianity, I highly doubt that forcing it on an entire population will save one single individual from damnation. Conforming to laws and actual faith are two entirely different things, and always will be.

But I don't think that folks like Moore care about that very much. Their dogmatic approach to their religion has turned off plenty of people who might otherwise want to practice it, and again, if you accept the tenets of Christianity, those are now people who won't be saved. How could any devout Christian consider that a good thing?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Black Moon Apocalypse

Tomorrow night will bring a "black moon," described by this article as a lunar eclipse so complete that the Moon will practically vanish from the sky. The article goes on to explain that this phenomenon is unusual but not especially so, happening about every three years. But that doesn't stop the doomers out there from arguing that this time, for sure, it heralds the Apocalypse because it follows a solar eclipse that took place earlier this month. As usual, I'll believe it when I see it.

The spectacular Black Moon occurs when the illuminated side of the moon is caught in the shadow of the Earth, making it virtually impossible to see. The phenomenon happens roughly every 32 months, but this one holds special significance due to other universal activity this month.

The first day of September brought with it a ‘ring of fire’ solar eclipse – where the moon falls in line with the Earth and the sun above Africa, making it appear as if the sun had darkened. This, coupled with the Black Moon, has got many fearing the worst.

One conspiracy theorist wrote on Facebook: “Those signs are letting us know that Jesus is soon coming. We are approaching the end of our world and the end of life on Earth for all human being. Every day, we have to come closer to our saviour Jesus Christ. For none can escape for what is coming for the Earth.”

Another wrote: “The Lord will make the moon turn red as blood … and turn black. Sounds familiar?” When the rare double phenomenon is linked to the Bible, it can make for terrifying reading for Christians and conspiracy theorists.

Or, really, for anyone who shares their special kind of stupid. The Apocalypse, as modern evangelical Christians expound it, only dates back to William Miller in the early nineteenth century. Early Christians, including Jesus himself, would barely have recognized it at all. Similarly, for some reason, literalists who believe that it describes a distinct future event completely disregard the words of Jesus the Gospel of Matthew, that "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man."

It seems pretty clear to me that the words of Jesus should override any of the claims made by the author of Revelation, and it should also be noted that this was the position of most Christians until Miller decided that his elaborate timelines actually meant something. But Miller was proved wrong twice in his own lifetime, and the predictions made by every denomination descended from his Millerite movement have likewise always failed.

So is it at last time that we just give it up, after almost two centuries? I sure think so. And I'll make the same prediction that I do whenever a new date surfaces. Friday will come and go without any fanfare, and come Saturday we will still all be here. That prediction's a sure winner - so far, it has never failed me.

UPDATE: So as it turns out, the linked article is even wrong about the nature of the "black moon." It's not an eclipse - that is, it is not caused by the illuminated side of the Moon passing into the Earth's shadow. It's just a regular New Moon that happens to be the second one occurring this month - and freaking out over something that entirely artificial is even dumber than freaking out over an unusual eclipse. Good job, doomers!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Regarding Magical Models - Part Five

This is Part Four in a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, and Part Four can be found here.

At this point, we start to diverge into more speculative territory than the last few posts. These are the sorts of speculations that most "quantum paranormal" models are built on, but they rarely are acknowledged as such. They may wind up as part of quantum physics at some point in the future, once we develop instruments that can measure quantum information more directly. On the other hand, the uncertainty principle might conceivably make such devices impossible to build.

We left off last time talking about meta-awareness. The concept itself is not particularly controversial in psychology; while it is difficult to measure directly, there is substantial evidence for the development of this sort of cognition in the works of psychologists such as Jean Piaget, and the concept has proved useful in education theory and a number of other areas. Ken Wilber has proposed a model in which Piaget's general idea can be extended beyond normal mundane consciousness to include mystical states.

Wilber's model is too complex to recount here, but the basic idea is that each developmental step consists of a level of meta-awareness that includes all the levels that preceded it. Piaget's model ends with Formal Operational, which is a level of meta-awareness that includes Concrete Operational, and likewise, Concrete Operational is a level of meta-awareness that includes Pre-Operational. Wilber proposes that mystical consciousness is essentially a series of levels of meta-awareness that include and transcend Formal Operational.

As I also mentioned last time, this idea is not at all foreign to the various mystical traditions. Buddhism speaks of levels of enlightenment, in Christianity you find the ideas of metanoia and gnosis, and so forth. These are merely examples. Every contemplative tradition has some version of this concept - a sort of meta-awareness that transcends mundane consciousness and opens our consciousness up to a greater and more expansive world than the one we experience through our physical senses.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Witches! All the Way Down!

Evanglist and potato soup huckster Jim Bakker's show is back in the news here on Augoeides, and for once he's not even the craziest guy on it. For a recent episode, that honor goes to his guest, Richard Maginnis of the Family Research Council. After Bakker went off on one of his usual tirades about the Obama administration favoring Muslims, apparently because the administration has refused to violate the constitution by barring Muslims from all political posts, Maginnis added that the "senior leadership" in this country is being influenced by witches. Because of course it is.

Bakker had a segment on his show yesterday where he brought up President Obama‘s recent nomination of a Muslim federal judge as proof that his administration is giving “preferential treatment” to Muslims… which is an absurd notion. As if Abid R. Qureshi was nominated because he was a Muslim and not because his credentials are impeccable. Meanwhile, Christians make up every branch and twig and leaf of government, but Bakker doesn’t think there’s anything weird about that.

Anyway. That wasn’t even the worst part of the segment. His guest, Robert Maginnis, a senior fellow with the Family Research Council and a former Army lieutenant colonel, responded to Bakker’s claim with an even more ludicrous one:

"… I know that there’s demonic forces in that city. I have personally met people that refer to themselves as witches, people that say they advise the senior leadership of the country. We invite within the federal government people to advise us, and often some of those advisers, I think, have evil motivations, things that you and I would not approve of."

Now I do want to point something out here. To a fundamentalist like Maginnis, somebody who reads the Bible different that he does is a Satanist, and Satanists and witches are the same thing. So most likely, the "witches" he's talking about are Episcopalians, or Methodists, or Presbyterians. Don't believe me? Hillary Clinton is a devout Methodist and these folks have been calling her a witch from day one. And isn't Donald Trump a Presbyterian?

Seriously, though, I don't know of any Pagan or occultist who might describe themselves as a witch in any senior advisory position whatsoever. Look what a stink gets put up when a Muslim gets nominated for something. Can you imagine how bad it would be for an actual Pagan? Legally there's no religious test, but for minority religions like Paganism there might as well be.

Sadly, though, the Family Research Council was quite influential during the second Bush administration. Because unfortunately, there's no similar test for reactionary fanatics.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Illumi-NOT

If this is the best the Illuminati have to offer, let's just say they might want to rethink that whole world domination thing. San Diego man Titus Colbert Jr. has appeared in court on multiple occasions on charges of attempting to murder police officers last November. Instead of mounting a legal defense, though, Colbert started shouting about being a member of the Illuminati on his first appearance. Then, during a subsequent appearance, he started singing about it.

The first time Titus Colbert Jr. appeared in a San Diego courtroom after his November arrest he started shouting. “May 1, 1776!” he said — a reference to the founding day of an Enlightenment-era secret society, the Illuminati. He then made references to “a new world order” and Benjamin Franklin.

Colbert, who is accused of toting a handgun and a couple of rifles to a Bankers Hill condo complex, then shooting at police after they were called to the scene, was kicked out of the courtroom after he ignored warnings to keep quiet.

When Colbert returned to court the following week, he again refused to be silent. This time, he sang. “We are the Illuminati, we stand for a new world order!” he repeated in a loud baritone. Again, he was he removed from the room.

All of this made for some interesting moments in the earliest days of Colbert’s case in San Diego Superior Court. He faces a string of felony charges, including four counts of attempted murder on a peace officer, stemming from the Nov. 4 incident. No one was injured.

While I'm happy that no one was injured, from an evil Illuminati standpoint the case is a complete disaster. Not only is this guy an idiot, he's a total failure. Presumably he was supposed to murder those officers to somehow further the mysterious plans that the secret, not-at-all-secret, Illuminati society is attempting to set in motion. Those plans were clearly thwarted by Colbert's arrest, probably largely because he's such a dim bulb.

You know, the sort of bulb that's not illuminated at all.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Regarding Magical Models - Part Four

This is Part Four in a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, and Part Three can be found here.

Now that we have taken a look at some of the basics of quantum physics, we can move on to examining the nature of consciousness. Consciousness is a vital component of every magical operation, and because we still do not really understand how it works, the same is true of magick. While we have no current instrument to measure consciousness, I expect that if such a thing were ever developed we would be able to generate an accurate model of magical processes with a few years of dedicated research, if that.

Consciousness studies is a relatively new discipline that brings together experts in the various fields that contribute to cognitive science, along with philosophers and even a few esotericists here and there. The discipline is currently trying to unravel what is called the "hard problem" of consciousness, and has been at it for over a decade. Simply stated, the hard problem has to do with going from the biochemical "machinery" of the brain and nervous system to the subjective experience of self-awareness.

I have some ideas about that, which I will be touching on in this section, but I want to be clear that none of those ideas can currently be objectively validated, because of the lack of a consciousness measuring instrument that would let us examine the phenomenon experimentally. The first piece is what has been dubbed "quantum consciousness," which refers to the idea that consciousness is somehow related to the brain and nervous system interacting with quantum-scale events.

I'll repeat the same caveat as last time. Even if some form of quantum consciousness turns out to be the best model, it does not prove that consciousness works the way esotericists like me think it does. There isn't necessarily anything paranormal about it at all. I believe that there is based on my experiences as a magician, but "quantum" doesn't make it paranormal. Quantum simply refers to scale in this context, without implying anything else.

And just as a point, it's a bit annoying that there's so much nonsense and misinformation out there about quantum physics and the paranormal that I have to keep going over this, but it's really important because so many people don't seem to understand the concepts clearly.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Goat Yoga?

So perhaps this is the real reason fundamentalist Christians think yoga, even when stripped of all vestiges of Asian religion, is evil - because it's better with goats. It always has confused me that non-sectarian yoga is still considered problematic by certain Christians, because without any of the Asian religious trappings, it's just stretching. And if God hates stretching, there are a lot of other things the truly devout would have to eliminate from their lives. Like, say, movement.

But now it all makes sense. Christ is the lamb of God, and the Bible tells us that Jesus will come to separate the sheep from the goats. It should be clear that anyone who engages in goat yoga has taken a side, and it's not the side of Christ. The goat is Capricornus, who is, of course, the devil of the Tarot - Levi's rendering of Baphomet. So if goats like participating in yoga classes, what's the message? Clearly the devil loves it, which means that by definition God must hate it. Or something like that.

Goat yoga is the brainchild of Oregon resident Lainey Morse, who recently started holding yoga classes at her goat farm. The goats enthusiastically joined in, and it now looks like goat yoga could be a hit. But that's the whole point of evil, right? It's fun, so it's tempting - and therefore it leads all who participate into damnation. And probably the goats as well. You know, if you happen to buy that sort of thing.

But here's a better idea. How about we end this whole "war on stretching" nonsense, and focus on issues that really affect people's lives? That way, anybody who disapproves of yoga can just not do it without making a fuss, and those who want to do it can - including those who would rather do their yoga with goats.